The Blade (1995)
Reviewed by: pjshimmer on 2002-02-25
Summary: What is this, an anti-tribute to Ashes of Time?
I guess "different" is the best word to describe this movie, but it's different in sort of a bad way. This is perhaps the SECOND most disturbing, dark, heart-blowing depressing, and hyper-super-duper-ultra-melo-melo-melo-super-ultra-melodramatic movie (all after Ashes of Time, of course) ever. Its message: Everyone is worthless and a victim, and heroes are no exceptions.

So let's begin the analyzation of this "work of art" with a fact: 90% of the movie has people screaming and yelling and over-reacting. Indeed, nobody ever opens his mouth peacefully, so don't even think about calmness. All The characters are totally out of control; everyone is on the verge of becoming permanently insanne. You, too, may need to be institutionized after watching this movie.

Instead of the usual polished fight scenes (found in other works of Tsui Hark), the action here is smudged, unclear, sloppy, violent, furious--with purpose of course. If you're a real kung fu fan, you will not find adequate action here. But it truly saves the best for last, for the finale contains some of the most fierce, brutal, and barbaric action ever captured on film. It will blow anyone's mind. And keep in mind that most fight scenes are wire-free.

The behavior of the characters are so dramatic, they're not funny (really, they're not). They reveal the worst side of humanity. But the ultimate horror is, all this uncivilized behavior and eccentric fighting is probably the most accurate portray of life in China 500 years ago. It raises the most thought-provoking question that even Ashes of Time fails to bring up: Was this the REAL Jiang Hu, the actual Martial World? I think so. And So You won't find the humor from Fong Sai Yuk, the classy production values of Once Upon a Time in China, or the majestic swordplay in Butterfly Sword. But these elements are not likely accurate at all, for how could the martial world have been so civilized, where two fighters can not know eachother's style and still fight with all the right moves (that's just one example)? So No, The Blade doesn't have any of that. What it does have is never-before-seen footage of realism; and as we all know, reality can be disturbing and disgusting--and it is. You enter a different world when you begin this film. Don't expect it like your NORMAL onscreen martial arts journey.

Not sure if I should recommend this. I almost regret having seen it. The narrative comes from an outisde, a totally uninvolved character, and the ending is very peaceful. In many ways, this is the one film that should never have been made, Tsui Hark's most ambitious attempt, and Tsui Hark's worst movie ever. YOU WILL FEEL LIKE DOGSHIT WHEN YOU WATCH THIS, and you will question your worth. I guess it's always nice to see a film intended to be messed up from the beginning, but maybe that's sarcasm.

Reviewer Score: 6